Royalist mobs attack ‘critics’

Thais are expected to wear black clothing. Source: YouTube

Thais have been told to “socially sanction” those who defame the monarchy after King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death, justice minister Paiboon Koomchay told the media. Videos of mobs attacking people accused of insulting the royal family have appeared online.

Small groups of ultra-monarchists, including mobs and online communities, are intent on punishing anyone perceived to have insulted the royals.

“There is no better way to punish these people than to socially sanction them,” Paiboon said, whole promising to “pursue those people who violate the law”.

On Tuesday a video was broadcast live on Facebook showing a mob beating a man and forcing him to prostrate himself in apology for allegedly insulting the royal family.

During the beating, which appears to be in Chonburi to the east of Bangkok, the man shouts: “I didn’t mean to do it, I love the king. It’s my fault.”

In another online video, an elderly woman on a Bangkok bus is seen being berated by commuters in the presence of police officers. She is slapped in the face by another woman dressed in black, presumably in mourning for the king.

Social media is seeing increasing calls by royalists for vigilante action against alleged royal critics.

On Sunday a woman on Koh Samui was made by the police to kneel below a portrait of Bhumibol in front of a mob after posting an allegedly insulting Facebook comment.

She has been charged under the lese majeste laws, which can jail anyone insulting the monarchy for 15 years for each offence.

Similar mobs have been reported in Phuket and adjacent Phang Nga province, prompted by alleged criticism.

Thais deemed not to be mourning sufficiently or failing to wear black clothes face online abuse, dubbed “black-shaming”.

Paiboon said the junta would renew extradition requests for expat Thais. These are unlikely to be successful.

Meanwhile, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, who declined to become king last week, could be crowned by Friday, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said, adding that he expected national elections to be held in 2017.

It was expected that Vajiralongkorn would become king soon after the death of his father. But the prince said he needed up to a year to “mourn” the loss of his father before becoming a king.